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Etiquette & Languages

Etiquette and Languages observes how people relate to each other through behaviors and speech. Find information on topics like tipping, sign language, good manners and slang.

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How Many Butts in a Buttload?

If you've ever expressed the charming idea that you have a buttload of something – a buttload of laundry to do, a buttload of tacos to eat – you may have wondered what the measure of a buttload actually is and where the phrase came from.

Why Do We Say We're 'In a Pickle'?

Ever found yourself in a pickle and wondered, "Hey, why the heck do we call it a pickle?" Let's see if we can swim through the brine and find out.

The Phrase 'Riding Shotgun' Came Way After the West Was Won

The phrase (which means to ride in the front passenger seat of the car) seems like it might have come about during the Wild West. But it actually took a detour through Hollywood.

What Does Latinx Mean Anyway?

The term Latinx has emerged recently as a gender-neutral alternative to Latino and Latina, but not everyone is on board. In fact most Hispanics haven't even heard it before.

The Germans Have a Word for the Slow Days of Late Summer: Sommerloch

You know that time in summer when everything slows down and not much is going on? The German word sommerloch neatly sums it up. But where did it come from?

How Did Lefties Become Known as 'Southpaws'?

From the worlds of politics, professional baseball and old-time boxing came a term still in use today to describe someone who has a left-handed predilection.

Why Do We Say, 'Close, But No Cigar'?

You didn't ask for a cigar. Maybe you don't even like them. So why is someone abruptly denying you one?

What Does It Mean to 'Take It With a Grain of Salt'?

'Take it with a grain of salt' means to be skeptical about something. But where does the phrase come from?

How to Talk to Your Friends About Race and Remain Friends

Why do conversations about race get so awkward? And what are some ways to keep them friendly and productive?

Call it Arroba, Kukac or Strudel: The History of the @ Sign

The @ sign is so much a part of the internet that it may surprise you to know it's been around for at least 1,500 years.

5 Things to Know About Native American Languages Spoken in the 21st Century

The majority of Native Americans speak the English language, so how many Native American languages are still in existence and being spoken today? It's a complicated question.

Why Was the Mad Hatter Mad?

The Mad Hatter makes quite an impression in the 'Alice in Wonderland' books and movies. But the expression 'mad as a hatter' actually predates this character. So, where did the term come from?

Sign Language Interpreters Steal the Show During COVID-19 News Conferences

Sign language interpreters provide critical lifelines to the deaf community, especially during crises. So who exactly are these superhero signers?

Why Xenophobia Thrives in Troubled Times

Xenophobia, or the fear of immigrants and strangers, has a long, unsettling history in the U.S. and across the globe. What makes this prejudice so prominent during hard times throughout history?

Comma vs. Colon: Take Our Punctuation Quiz!

Punctuation can really make or break a sentence. Test your knowledge of basic (and not-so-basic) punctuation conventions by taking this quiz!

Are You a Grammar Geek? Take Our Quiz!

We all learned about grammar in grade school, but some of us retained the knowledge better than others. Test your knowledge of the finer points of English with our quiz.

How Did 'Bourgeoisie' Become a Bad Word?

If someone calls your tastes 'bourgeois,' should you thank them or shake a fist? You might have to check first with Moliere, Marx or Migos to be sure.

Why Do We Say 'Holy Cow'?

The Hindu religion considers cows holy. But that's certainly not why we utter the expression. So what's the story behind it?

Get to Know the Greek Alphabet, From Alpha to Omega

Even if you hardly know your beta from your zeta, chances are you've used Greek letters at some point in your life. What are they and why are they so common?

'Franglais' on the Rise, Say French Language Watchdogs

And it's expressions like 'fake news' (instead of information fallacieuse) and 'cool! that are to blame.

What's the Difference? Quiz

Does anyone really know the difference between an alligator and a crocodile? Or a hurricane and a cyclone? You're about to learn with the answers to this quiz!

Use of the Exclamation Point Has Exploded!

Once this skinny mark of excitement was mainly the provenance of excited teenage girls and inexperienced novelists. But now we're all peppering our sentences with exclamation marks. Is this a good thing?

What on Earth Were They Talking About? A Quote Quiz

You might know the quote but do you know what the speaker was referring to? See how many of these famous quips or disses you recognize.

What Does It Mean When Someone Says 'That's Just Semantics'?

In our modern vernacular, the phrase "that's just semantics" has somehow become shorthand to insinuate the speaker has argued something trivial or unimportant. But what does it really mean?

What's the Difference Between Misogyny and Sexism?

The two terms are often used interchangeably, though they have distinct meanings. We'll explain how they're different.

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